State ex rel. Kroger Co. v. Craig, No. 7792

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtSTONE
PartiesSTATE of Missouri ex rel. the KROGER COMPANY, a corporation, Relator. v. Hon. Marshall CRAIG, Judge of the Circuit Court of Mississippi County, Missouri, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 7792
Decision Date03 December 1959

Page 804

329 S.W.2d 804
STATE of Missouri ex rel. the KROGER COMPANY, a corporation, Relator.
v.
Hon. Marshall CRAIG, Judge of the Circuit Court of
Mississippi County, Missouri, Respondent.
No. 7792.
Springfield Court of Appeals, Missouri.
Dec. 3, 1959.

Page 805

Henson & Henson, Poplar Bluff, for relator.

Ward & Reeves, Caruthersville, for respondent.

STONE, Presiding Judge.

This original proceeding in prohibition is an outgrowth of a civil action (hereinafter refered to as the damage suit) styled Joan Lee Lawrence, a minor, by Al Lawrence, her father and natural guardian, plaintiff vs. The Kroger Company, a corporation, defendant, in which plaintiff (as disclosed by her petition) prays $3,000 for personal injuries alleged to have resulted when she was bitten by 'a tan mongrel dog' while 'an invitee' in a Kroger market in Caruthersville. The owner of the dog is not identified. In this proceeding, The Kroger Company seeks to prohibit respondent, as judge of the Circuit Court of Mississippi County (before whom the damage suit is

Page 806

now pending), from enforcing an order directing Kroger to answer certain interrogatories propounded by counsel for plaintiff Joan in the damage suit. Since our preliminary writ of prohibition was limited to interrogatories 6, 7, 8 and 16 (copied marginally 1), we presently address ourselves to those interrogatories only.

Although the trend of modern practice is to enlarge the scope of discovery and our civil code of 1945 was conceived in that spirit (State ex rel. Cummings v. Witthaus, 358 Mo. 1088, 1099, 219 S.W.2d 383, 390, 8 A.L.R.2d 1124), nevertheless the discovery provisions in our code were not designed or intended for untrammeled use as a factual dragnet or for unlimited employment in far-flung fishing expeditions. 2 Soon after the effective date of our present civil code, it was pointed out and settled by our Supreme Court, en banc, that the scope of examination on interrogatories under Section 510.020 RSMo 1949, V.A.M.S., is coextensive with that permitted on depositions and that discovery of matters inadmissible in evidence is not authorized, even though such matters might aid the inquiring party in preparing for trial. 3 So, numerous cases evidence the fact that, in simple recognition and practical application of the foregoing principle, courts should not compel interrogatories to be answered or documents to be produced where it is apparent that the answers or the documents would constitute or be predicated upon inadmissible hearsay. 4 Since any information elicited in response to instant interrogatory 6 obviously would be rank, undisguished, unadulterated hearsay, that interrogatory was improper and an answer thereto should not be compelled.

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Interrogatory 7, calling for 'any written reports and memoranda to defendant (Kroger)' by 'any employee or any person on behalf of defendant,' would encompass not only inadmissible reports reflecting or necessarily predicated upon hearsay but also all narrative reports by employees or claim representatives of Kroger subsequent to the alleged occurrence in suit and all intracompany memoranda pertaining to investigation of the damage suit or preparation for its defense, none of which would be competent evidence in the damage suit upon plaintiff Joan's theory that such reports and memoranda 'would constitute admissions against interest' on the part of defendant Kroger. For, "declarations' or admissions 'of an agent with respect to an act or transaction, made after the occurrence of the act or the completion of the transaction, are not provable against the principal. * * * Such statements are merely hearsay and like those of any other person, and cannot affect his principal. A rule that would allow an agent, after a transaction is closed, to admit away the rights of his principal, would be too dangerous to be tolerated." 5 Only declarations or statements made by an employee or agent 'in the course of, relating to, and connected with the ordinary business of the principal, within the scope of his authority, and then depending, are excepted from the hearsay rule and competent as admissions against his principal.' Shelton v. Wolf Cheese Co., 338 Mo. 1129, 1139, 93 S.W.2d 947, 953(5); State ex rel. S. S. Kresge Co. v. Shain, 340 Mo. 145, 153, 101 S.W.2d 14, 18. And, the firmly-established converse is that a mere narrative of the facts and circumstances surrounding an accident, made by an employee long after the accident, will not be received in evidence as an admission against interest on the part of the employer. 6 Thus, interrogatory 7 is improper in that it would require production of narratives by Kroger's employees subsequent to the alleged dog bite, and it is just as improper in that it would compel disclosure of intracompany reports and memoranda pertaining to investigation and preparation for defense of the damage suit. 7

The ominbus language of interrogatory 8, demanding the 'knowledge' of 'any employee' of defendant Kroger concerning the presence of any dogs of Kroger's premises 'on any occasion' during the entire period of the operation of this market prior to the occurrence in suit, is much too broad and all-inclusive 8 and would afford adequate reason, in and of itself, to require

Page 808

condemnation of this interrogatory. But, the effort of counsel for plaintiff Joan to justify interrogatory 8 on the theory that 'knowledge of the presence of dogs upon the premises of the defendant on previous occasions is an essential element of plaintiff's cause of action' suggests the propriety of our exploration of the nature and gist of such cause of action, that we may determine whether information of the character sought by this interrogatory (and by others to be scrutinized herein and in a companion proceeding) would be material and relevant to the issues in the damage suit. Consult State ex rel. Clemens v. Witthaus, 360 Mo. 274, 280, 282, 228 S.W.2d 4, 7, 9(9).

Seized by furor scribendi with which appellate judges sometimes are afflicted, we observe perliminarily that, although plaintiff Joan's petition depreciatingly and disparagingly refers to the animal alleged to have bitten her as 'a tan mongrel dog,' the canine (as a class) has a proud heritage rooted in antiquity. To the ancients, the dog was more than a pet in the household, a servant in the field, and an assistant in the hunt. He was an object of ceremony, reverence and veneration as well. The Egyptians regarded him as a symbolic guide and protector of the dead, crowned their god Anubis with a doglike head, fashioned images of the dog on the walls of their burial chambers and temples, ceremoniously embalmed his body and entombed it in the special burial ground set aside for dogs in every town, and even built a city, Cynopolis, in his honor. The dog was scarcely less important to the Greeks, where Socrates' favorite pledge was by the dog, Plato called the dog a philosopher, Pythagoras...

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24 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Boswell v. Curtis, No. 7847
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 20, 1960
    ...State ex rel. Bostelmann v. Aronson, Mo., 235 S.W.2d 384; and cases at footnotes 2 and 4. 4 State ex rel. Kroger Co. v. Craig, Mo.App., 329 S.W.2d 804, and cases at footnote 2 in that case; State v. Kelton, Mo., 299 S.W.2d 493, 497; State ex rel. Thompson v. Harris, 355 Mo. 176, 195 S.W.2d ......
  • State ex rel. Bush v. Elliott, No. 49453
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 14, 1963
    ...383, 8 A.L.R.2d 1124; State ex rel. Boswell v. Curtis, Mo.App., 334 S.W.2d 757, 760[2-5]; State ex rel. Kroger Company v. Craig, Mo.App., 329 S.W.2d 804, 806[1, 2]; Central & Southern Truck Lines, Inc. v. Westfall GMC Truck, Mo.App., 317 S.W.2d 841, The elicitation of the name of the liabil......
  • Cornet Stores v. Superior Court In and For Yavapai County, No. 10468
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • January 21, 1972
    ...7 F.R.D. 738, 739 (W.D.Mo.1948); Onofrio v. American Beauty Macaroni Co., D.C., 11 F.R.D. 181, 184; State ex rel. Kroger Co. v. Craig, 329 S.W.2d 804, 810 (Mo.App.1959). But the principle should also be applied that if the answers involve no great, excessive expenditure of time, effort, or ......
  • Farrior v. Payton, No. 5828
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • March 30, 1977
    ...for an owner of a dog that has caused or inflicted injuries must first be determined. The court in State ex rel. Kroger Company v. Craig, 329 S.W.2d 804, 808-809 (Mo.App.1959) stated the general '(I)n an action against the owner or harborer of a dog for injury inflicted by such animal, defe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • State ex rel. Boswell v. Curtis, No. 7847
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 20, 1960
    ...State ex rel. Bostelmann v. Aronson, Mo., 235 S.W.2d 384; and cases at footnotes 2 and 4. 4 State ex rel. Kroger Co. v. Craig, Mo.App., 329 S.W.2d 804, and cases at footnote 2 in that case; State v. Kelton, Mo., 299 S.W.2d 493, 497; State ex rel. Thompson v. Harris, 355 Mo. 176, 195 S.W.2d ......
  • State ex rel. Bush v. Elliott, No. 49453
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 14, 1963
    ...383, 8 A.L.R.2d 1124; State ex rel. Boswell v. Curtis, Mo.App., 334 S.W.2d 757, 760[2-5]; State ex rel. Kroger Company v. Craig, Mo.App., 329 S.W.2d 804, 806[1, 2]; Central & Southern Truck Lines, Inc. v. Westfall GMC Truck, Mo.App., 317 S.W.2d 841, The elicitation of the name of the liabil......
  • Cornet Stores v. Superior Court In and For Yavapai County, No. 10468
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • January 21, 1972
    ...7 F.R.D. 738, 739 (W.D.Mo.1948); Onofrio v. American Beauty Macaroni Co., D.C., 11 F.R.D. 181, 184; State ex rel. Kroger Co. v. Craig, 329 S.W.2d 804, 810 (Mo.App.1959). But the principle should also be applied that if the answers involve no great, excessive expenditure of time, effort, or ......
  • Farrior v. Payton, No. 5828
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • March 30, 1977
    ...for an owner of a dog that has caused or inflicted injuries must first be determined. The court in State ex rel. Kroger Company v. Craig, 329 S.W.2d 804, 808-809 (Mo.App.1959) stated the general '(I)n an action against the owner or harborer of a dog for injury inflicted by such animal, defe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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